The day after the 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Marla Schwartz (B.S. Plant Sci. ’71) called Anthony S. Davis, director of the University of Idaho Center for Forest Nursery and Seedling Research and the Franklin H. Pitkin Nursery, to discuss how she could partner with CNR to benefit the citizens of Haiti.
“I wanted to plant trees in Haiti,” says Schwartz. “Something needed to be done about its terrible deforestation problem. People can’t live without water, soil and trees.”
Haiti’s declining forests were on Schwartz’s radar long before the earthquake. Schwartz’s passion for reforestation began years ago as a student studying plant science and horticulture and continued when she and her husband, Jim Schwartz, established a reforestation nursery in Elk River, with the help of Dave Wenny, then-director of the forest nursery.
Davis and Schwartz agreed that her contribution would be most effective if were used as seed money for a science and education project in Haiti.
Sabine Deristin, a student in the International Program’s Scholarships for Education and Economic Development who took Davis’ nursery management/native plant production course, returned to Haiti in June to transfer her training to children in her native country. She has partnered with Haitian non-governmental agencies to start a native plant nursery at an elementary school in Kenscoff.
“The excellent training I received through Dr. Davis’ course will allow me to transform the lives of Haitian children,” says Deristin. “Teaching children about reforestation and the benefit of protecting trees will not only improve their lives but also the lives of future generations.”
“I was able to leverage Marla’s gift to obtain contributions from other northwest nursery partners who are providing ongoing support in efforts to reforest Haiti,” says Davis. “Reforestation starts with nurseries and ends with healthy forests.”
Davis and Schwartz are planning to continue building capacity in Haiti and will travel there to conduct nursery production training. Other plans include developing student service-learning opportunities, alternative break experiences and curriculum development.